Thursday, August 25, 2022

"No Ordinary Thursday"

Anoop Judge is the author of The Rummy Club, which won the 2015 Beverly Hills Book Award, and is a 2019 Pushcart Prize nominee for The Awakening of Meena Rawat. A recovering litigator, former TV presenter, and blogger, she has had essays and short stories published in Green Hills Literary Lantern, Rigorous, and Scarlet Leaf Review, among others. Born and raised in New Delhi, Judge now resides in California. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Saint Mary’s College and is the recipient of the 2021–2023 Advisory Board Award and Alumni Scholarship. She is married with two nearly grown and fully admirable children.

Judge applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, No Ordinary Thursday, and reported the following:
From page 69:
His dad was the easiest to find, with his aviator shades and something in blonde and red sitting next to him. He grinned and held up a hand in acknowledgment to Sameer. Then Sameer found Maya and Veer, Maya looking anxious while Veer stared straight ahead. His successful sister and her trust-fund musician boyfriend. FiancĂ© now, Sameer had learned. He guessed the car accident had put a dent in their special night. Of course, if he had turned up to the restaurant like he was supposed to . . . Sameer pushed those thoughts down, along with a rising sense of nausea that they were bringing, yet he couldn’t pull his eyes away from the two of them. So perfect, even in the midst of the disappointment they were no doubt bringing their two families. Everyone always looked at Veer Kapoor—pretty little prick that he was! A part of him wanted to hate Veer so much for everything he had, a man who was always the center of attention. Well, everyone was noticing Sameer now, too. He was finally the center of attention.

His eyes slid across the audience—was that what they were, like they had turned up for the taping of an episode of Judge Judy?—and found Lena and Manuel last of all. His mother looked ill, and Sameer realized how all the different parts of his family were sitting apart from each other. Families, more than anything else, appeared to adhere to the laws of entropy. There was something terribly sad about that.
I had approached this exercise with some skepticism but surprisingly, the Page 69 Test works perfectly for No Ordinary Thursday because at its heart this novel is a story about a dysfunctional family broken by many bad decisions and traumas. The book is centered around three members of the Sharma family. Lena is the matriarch, caught between keeping up appearances in the Indian community and standing up for what's right. Maya is the eldest daughter and no stranger to scandal. Already divorced once, she’s on the verge of marrying the wealthy Veer who is a family friend and also happens to be 12 years younger than her. Finally, there is Sameer, the quintessential youngest child and most lost soul of the bunch. After a horrific accident with devastating consequences, Sameer is forced to face some hard truths. All three are struggling to keep it together, but can they do so long enough to support one another?

All readers, but especially first-generation American readers will relate to Maya and Sameer's struggle to balance their Indian identity with their American identity. As Indians, they are asked to follow traditional values that essentially prioritize stability. This runs counter to the American notion of individualism. First-Gen kids like Maya and Sameer will understand that feeling of nonstop, push-pull internal negotiation between their identities. At the same time, parents will relate to Leena’s desire to control her children, in an attempt to protect them. In families, and extended families there are rifts and fights and differences of opinion. There is resentment and friction. I hope that all readers root for the Sharma’s because their struggles with identity, acceptance, and forgiveness are universal, not just to Indian American families, but to all families.
Visit Anoop Judge's website.

--Marshal Zeringue